Poetry for the People (P4P) is an arts/activism program, founded by the late June Jordan in 1991. This collection contains
administrative records, anthologies, news coverage, video recordings, and other materials related to the content, administration,
organization and vision of the Poetry for the People Program of the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies
at UC Berkeley.
Poetry for the People (P4P) was officially established in 1991 by poet and UC Berkeley professor June Jordan with three guiding
principles in mind:
1. That students will not take themselves seriously unless we who teach them, honor and respect them in every practical way
that we can.
2. That words can change the world and save our lives.
3. That poetry is the highest art and the most exacting service devoted to our most serious, and our most imaginative, deployment
of verbs and nouns on behalf of whatever and whoever we cherish.
Poetry for the People created a community that thrived on connections between humans, attesting to the significance of each
person’s struggle, and the idea that anyone could take the course without any prior writing experience. Students in the Poetry
for the People program crafted their own original poems as well as taught poetry for other University students, high school
students and community members. At the close of each semester, students produced an anthology of poetry and students showcased
their work at community and on-campus public poetry readings. The program also brought “Hot Shot poets” to campus and the
surrounding area for readings and lectures. Under the direction of Professor June Jordan, Poetry for the People expanded to
sites at Berkeley High School, Dublin Women’s Prison, Glide Memorial Church, Mission Cultural Center, Yerba Buena Center for
the Arts and others.
Poetry for the People continues to the present day as a fully accredited academic program at UC Berkeley with an academic
focus on the reading, writing, and teaching of poetry, while also engaging in bridging the gap between the university and
the larger community, working with teens and young adults, schools, and community organizations, and activist projects in
the greater Bay Area.
15 cartons, 3 boxes, 1 oversized folder – 22.71 linear feet
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Comparative
Ethnic Studies Librarian, Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-2360. Consent is given on behalf
of the Ethnic Studies Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the
copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. Additional restrictions may apply to parts of
the collection. Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted
to research and educational purposes.
PARTIALLY RESTRICTED COLLECTION: Cartons 6 – 15 (Series 10) contain student work that is restricted and unavailable for public
use. Students who were part of the program may request to see their own work if available. Please contact the Comparative
Ethnic Studies Librarian for more information.